Pig roast cook-off aids hungry schoolchildren

Delicious fun at Feed our Future fundraiser

A rainy Saturday afternoon cleared up to allow for a hot time on the beach with roasted pigs, dancing and free-flowing drinks all for a good cause on 6 October. 

The event was a fundraiser for Feed our Future, a nonprofit organisation that has a sole mission of providing food for school children who do not get enough to eat. During the 2011/12 school year, Feed our Future was able to provide about 20,000 lunches to 120 students in 11 different schools in Grand Cayman. 

The pig roast on the Camana Bay beach, which this year was billed “Islands Luau”, is an important annual fundraiser for Feed our Future and although it is held rain or shine, the event planners certainly hope for a dry day. This year, with heavy rains falling around George Town for much of the afternoon, it didn’t look like they’d get their wish. But the skies cleared allowing the guests to enjoy an evening of food, fun and music by the band Bona Fide. 

The rain, however, did play a role in the outcome of one element of the event: the competition to see who made the best roast pig. The roast-off, which was voted on by the guests, pitted Feed our Future director Anthony Lawson and his “Smokin’ Bros” team of Cody Bush and Tony Catalanotto against Joey Hew and is “Hew Done” team of Keith Griffin and some of the kitchen staff at Brasserie.  

Mr. Lawson decided to stick with his traditional hand-made roasting box this year, but he added some pimento leaves to the box to lend some smokiness to the flavour.  

On hearing Mr. Hew had ordered a “special” pig, Mr. Lawson was unimpressed. 

“I don’t need a special pig to make my pig special,” he said. “I have a team that will make it special.” 

Mr. Lawson said his secret was to cook the pig for at least 12 hours at 250 degrees.  

“Low and slow,” he said.  

Knowing how Mr. Lawson intended to roast his pig, Mr. Hew decided to think outside the roasting box and prepare his pig on a spit. What he didn’t account for was the clouds spitting rain on his best laid plans. His team had to take the pig off the spit and finish cooking it in a roasting box. 

“If it hadn’t rained, that pig would have been awesome,” Mr. Hew said, noting that his special rice and beans stuffing didn’t come out right because of the switch in cooking methods. Still, the pig – which had been completely submerged in a marinading brine days before cooking – came out very tasty. 

In the end, the Smokin’ Bros team won the competition by just two votes. 

But the pig roast competition was just a sidebar to the main purpose of the evening: to raise money for Feed our Future’s efforts. Speaking to the guests, Feed our Future Chairwoman Stacey VanDevelde said the organisation had this year found even more children in the schools who weren’t getting enough to eat. 

“So far this school year, we have begun work with 14 schools in Grand Cayman and two in Cayman Brac and have already accepted 140 needy children into our programme with additional commitment to source healthy snacks to an after-school programme in place at one of these schools,” she said. Mrs. VanDevelde read some of the comments Feed our Future had received from some of the people in the schools with whom they coordinate their efforts. 

“One parent indicated that because of the support with the meals, she was able to send her children to school more regularly,” the comment stated. “In the past, she had kept them at home because she had no funds to purchase meals.” 

Another comment highlighted the fact that sometimes pride keeps parents who can’t afford to feed their children properly from requesting aide through official sources. 

“One parent said that they had not wanted to go to social services as they were not comfortable with exposing the fact that they are not able to afford the basics,” the comment from a school colleague stated. “The Feed our Future programme had enabled this family to seek help in a private way and very few people know this support is being received.” 

Mrs. VanDevelde said Feed our Future was creating a national movement surrounding the issue of hunger and encouraging more inclusive school meal programmes, as well as inspiring individuals to take action and help raise awareness. 

In addition to the pigs, a variety of other foods and beverages were included in the ticket price and a large number of local restaurants supported the event in various ways, donating food, services or personnel to the cause. 


 

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